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Process Improvement for Effective Quality Management System During Procurement Phase in MEGA Program


Hydrocarbon field facilities development projects usually undergo various phases before being fully
implemented. To achieve the desired projects expectations, several systems are followed to control
practiced activities. One of the most important systems — which controls procurement, design, and
construction phase activities — is the Quality Management System (QMS).

In simple terms, process and product quality consist of two components. The first is referred to how well
the design is meeting the original customer specifications, while the other component is related to the
ability of a product manufacturer to satisfy the costumer specified requirements. To establish fair balance
between the two components, there should be a system to manage the process. The QMS system can be
utilized, which involves organizational structure, procedures, processes, and resources needed, to
implement quality measures.

Procurement quality, typically in Saudi Aramco, is governed by ISO 9001:2008 QMS, which consists of
several structured processes that control quality assurance. Inspection and Test Plan (ITP), Purchase
Order (PO) and Technical Bid Evaluation (TBE), are examples of existing procurement processes.
Continuous improvement for such existing processes is needed to optimize the workflow of certain
critical quality approach measures. In this article, we introduce several modifications to the procurement
processes, which were implemented in one of the largest increments’ projects in Saudi Aramco. The
proposed modifications include enhancement to the PO and ITP processes. Additionally, Lessons Learned
(LL) adaptation is suggested as a measure that can add value to improve the QMS efficiency.

Lessons Learned Adaptation:

At the beginning of each project, the LL database is utilized by project teams to gather and review
benefits from past procurement experiences. The LL assessment may cover multiple applicable aspects
of the QMS. Two examples can demonstrate the significance of this measure.

  • Drying Requirements for Heat Exchangers:

It is important to add drying requirements after hydrotesting for heat exchangers. Adapting LL can be
applied, as well, on several major critical commodities such as Air Coolers, Pressure Vessels,
Mechanical Valves, Control Valves, and Pumps. Consequently, the contractor should follow
implementing the requirement and replicate the drying inspection through the ITP process with the
related aforementioned commodities. LL adaptation may improve the preservation and visual
inspection of the product and prevent premature corrosion occurrence prior to being received at the
Saudi Aramco project site.

  • Foundry List Evaluation:

Early notice of some repeated or common failures in certain processes — learned from past
experience — is considered to be an effective way to avoid issues. For instance, it was highlighted
from LL that one common failure for mechanical valves was the valve's casting. I managed to have
the Valves’ Foundries list be provided as part of the Technical Bid Evaluation (TBE) for early
assessment by the Saudi Aramco technical consulting team, as applicable, for all manufacturers
involved in the TBE prior to contractor selection of the final supplier/manufacturer. This approach
was not carried out in previous projects. It was usually reviewed during the Pre-Inspection Meeting
(PIM), or after fabrication began when it was highlighted by inspectors at vendors’ shops. Adapting
LL aid in cultivating the benefit of complying with the recommended quality precautions during the

manufacturing process, which would improve the product quality and minimize the repair/defect

Pre-Purchase Order (PO) Placement Checklist:
A checklist was introduced and suggested to be utilized when submitting PO placement recommendations
to a Saudi Aramco procurement representative. This checklist summarized all activities and major
documentation covered during previous processes. The objective of such a checklist is to simplify the
procedures carried out by procurement representative, and to ensure the requirements are carried out
correctly by all involved disciplines prior to a No-Objection Letter (NOL) issuance. It is worth
mentioning that the proposed approach was not carried out before with similar projects during the
procurement phase. The application of such enhancement added value to both teams of Saudi Aramco and
the contractor.

Enhancement of Inspection Test Plan (ITP):
ITPs were evaluated and checked for the purpose of products’ quality enhancement. Pre-fabrication, in-
process manufacturing inspection, and final fabrication inspection are major ITP milestones. The
inspection enhancement examples discussed above have to be reflected and incorporated in the ITP. For
instance, special inspection forms are developed for some commodities that don’t have documented
(coded) inspection forms. This step added a level of control over both contractors and suppliers
(manufacturers) in following customer requests, and clearly defined the requirements. Furthermore, it
prevented alterations by contractors and manufacturers, which tended to occur on previous mega-projects,
and made any violation more evident and controllable. As an improvement and proactive measure, a
special inspection form for casting was developed for handling critical casting. Applying such a form
added value, which gave more assurance about the received parts from the foundry; it also supported the
project schedule in case there was a repair required where the defect could be discovered and repaired in
the foundry.
In conclusion, the importance of enhancing and improving existing procurement processes is essential and
may lead to cost reductions or schedule improvement. Three improvement measures are introduced:
Lessons Learned Adaptation, Pre-Purchase Order Placement Checklist, and Enhancement of Inspection
Test Plan. Consequently, it was clearly shown that materials/equipment received at site in the
aforementioned project are zero from drying issues not only for vessels, but also for other equipment such
as valves and pumps. Furthermore, one case failure was noticed for valve’s crack in body out of more
than 50,000 valves, compared to previous similar projects. In ISO standards, continuous improvement of
the QMS is an area that companies and individuals should work on to ensure the best results.

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